HP Looks to Create a Flash Mob
As the cost of Flash storage continues to drop naturally there’s an increased willingness to embrace solid-state drives (SSDs) as an alternative to high-performance magnetic disk drives. In fact, price cuts on SSDs are now making these technologies more accessible to small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) that rely heavily on the channel when it comes to embracing emerging technologies.
To help drive that process Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) this week unveiled enhancements to its MSA series of storage offerings that are sold primarily through the channel to SMB organizations. The latest MSA 2040 hybrid storage system drops the price of Flash storage in those systems by as much as 45 percent.
While SMBs may not buy as much storage as a large enterprise, they are presented with the same application performance challenges. The problem is that most SMBs don’t have the technical expertise required to maximize the performance of magnetic disk system by making sure the right bits of data are optimally placed on spinning disk. SSDs pretty much eliminate the need do that in a way that winds up making applications several orders of magnitude faster. To make managing the process easier, Vish Mulchand, senior director of Product Management and Marketing for HP, noted that HP also provides caching and auto-tiering software that optimizes where data resides on the hybrid array.
In many instances IT organizations have already addressed application performance issues by sticking an SSD on a card and plugging it directly into a server. While that may mitigate a particular application performance issue, SSDs plugged into a server are generally limited to the applications that run on that server. SSDs that that are installed in a hybrid array, in contrast, can be made available to any number of applications that connect to that server.
When customers start to think about sharing the cost of those SSDs across multiple applications, the cost of Flash storage cards looks downright expensive. In fact, the Flash storage cards are often more expensive than the servers they are plugged into.
At this point in time, Mulchand notes there’s no longer much correlation between the size of the company and the class of technologies they need. The latest MSA series offering essentially provider enterprise class storage performance at SMB price points, said Mulchand.
There’s also no doubt that there are a raft of storage vendors with similar ambitions to HP when it comes to storage in the SMB market. But given how much storage HP sells into the SMB space already, it’s pretty clear that HP channel partners are about to get a whole lot more aggressive pushing Flash storage across the sector.